Recently I had the chance to chat with Johnny Bomma and Rod Rivera of the Christian rock band Rivera Bomma. We talked about the band as a whole as well as the bands album 'Invisible Force' which is really cool. It was also kind of interesting to conduct an interview with multiple people and I think it went well. So without wasting anymore time.... Here we go!
Heavy Metal Resource: Well, let's get started! Hope you both are doing well. I wanted to let you know that I gave you the Pick of the month for March.

Johnny Bomma: Thanks! We greatly appreciate that!

HMR: Let's first look at the band. While Rivera Bomma is still relatively new, you both have been in the biz for a while. Kind of give us an idea of your backgrounds and previous band experience.

Rod Rivera: I have been in the business for about 20 years now. I started my music career in Puerto Rico. I was in many bands . When I came to the States in '85, I formed a band called Prophecy, a Christian rock band. We played clubs in the United States and I was in many bands after that. Nothing major. Then a couple of years ago I hooked up with Johnny B and formed Rivera Bomma.

JB: Back in the high school days I saw an ad in the paper, guitarist looking for band. I already had an established band. I didn't want to be a guitarist anymore, I wanted to be the frontman and just vocalize. Dan Lorenzo from Hades and I had hit it off pretty well and we changed the name of my band to actually make it Hades. We were a cover band for about a year and a half that I was with them, but then I destroyed my voice and that was the end of that. I recorded on their 'Saviorself' album which was a few years back. I did some background vocals. As for my background, I was trained by an opera singer. I've been in many, many garage bands and some more serious bands. I was out of the music business for quite a long time. I was raising some children on my own as a single parent. I am also in some productions. I am playing the part of Christ in a production. I did some other session work. Things have started to take off since Rod and I hooked up.

HMR: Where are you guys based out of??

JB: We have two studios, one in Clifton, New Jersey and one is in West Milford, New Jersey.

HMR: Okay, I thought that you were from New Jersey, but wasn't totally sure. How long has 'Invisible Force' been out??

JB: Well, there are 2 versions. Independently, it's been out for a little over a year, the one Rod and I put out. It was picked up by Secret Port Records out of Greece. The artwork and sleeves were all revamped and we put two bonus tracks on it for international release that includes around 26 countries worldwide.

HMR: Where can fans expect to find the release. The places I have seen it are Amazon, and Cd Baby.

RR: Well, probably the easier way for everyone to get it is Cd The actual new release you can get at Perris Records and also at the Secret Port Records website.

HMR: Something that people will notice about the album is the touch of Flamenco. I really dig this and it is a bit rare. There are some artists such as Steve Stevens who have delved into this style. I am guessing that Rod has a good background in this as well.

RR: Sure. My father was a classical guitar player in Puerto Rico so I grew up listening to that and my mother was an opera singer so that was always in my household. I studied some classical guitar and studied Flamenco of course. From there I discovered Ritchie Blackmore and  Deep Purple. Also some Malmsteen. I try to incorporate all of those styles in the music. I really love Flamenco. There is nothing better than a Flamenco guitar player. It is a great thing to learn and I'm still learning.

HMR: I really like the Flamenco style. It really is a style played with emotion. The Flamenco on the album fits perfect and sounds great.

RR: It really does have emotion and comes from the heart.

HMR: I wanted to also talk a bit about the positive message that the band tries to get across through the lyrics and music. Talk a bit about that.

JB: Well, basically Dan and I reunited after many years and we had a mutual friend. Dan kept in touch with us on tour in the 80's. He would call me and goof on me and say I'm in Paris right now. We kind of lost touch after years and finally hooked up and went to a Jets game together like old friends. It was a lot of fun. Back in Hades, he had two songs that were not complete. He asked me to write melodies and words to. He flipped out over one of them so I went into the studio, I actually ended up doing two songs with him, but I wrote one for him. From there they were getting a real big buzz for Hades to come back and put another album out. I was concerned at the time because at that point a Death Metal band out of Switzerland or Sweden had taken on the name Hades and were desecrating graves, spray painting churches and putting upside down crosses all over the place. He sued that band to get them to change their name, won the lawsuit and the name was changed. They didn't want people that did not know him or know them to be compared. They wanted to make sure that everybody knew that this was Hades from the 80's. They wanted to have a positive message. Knowing that I was a Christian, he asked me to sing first of all background vocals. I said I would have to hear what you guys are doing first before I would sing background vocals on something. I just wanted to make sure the message was good and wasn't anything I would disagree with. He was very receptive to that. They got an idea to have me sing 'Our Father' Accapello. They allowed me to go in and write my own 'Our Father' if you will. It put a positive edge on the album to let them know they are not about Satan or not about worshipping Satan. Dan's a Christian man. Although his music doesn't necessarily project that, he is a devout Christian man. I know the guys in the band, one is an athiest and the others are maybe more agnostic. But great guys and I thought the album was really good, in fact I toured with them a little bit. The outfit I wore in the video was a monk outfit. I went onstage and sang 'Our Father'.

HMR: Now how far back was that?

JB: It was about 4 years ago.

HMR: Where was the video shot at and where was it suppose to be played??

JB: It was shot in a studio and also in Burton County New Jersey in a graveyard. I think their idea was to possibly get on VH-1 Europe. From what I understand it was being played on VH-1 Europe. It was a positive video in the sense that I had my hand in front of a tank to sya stop killing, but the end of the video I didn't know about and didn't like too much because it had Chaunce' from Stepping Out Magazine beating the crap out of some girl. I didn't understand the significance of it all. I never understood why they did that because the video itself didn't really reflect that. It was a song called 'Active Contrition'. It was about going to confession, but your still doing deeds like murder. I guess basically what he meant by the guy beating the crap out of the girl that some people think that if they do this, they can go to church and say 'forgive me father for I have sinned' and that is enough pennance for forgiveness. That's what they are trying to get across. I think there is more to it than that. I had a little bit of a problem with that because believe it or not I'm a Catholic. It troubled me a little bit. They did not tell me that was gonna be part of the video.

HMR: That's too bad.Looking at your album, how has it been recieved to this point?

RR: It's been greatly recieved! Word from the fans and the reviews have been really great. Overall we couldn't be any happier as far as the way it is going.

JB: Yeah, we're really excited about it because there are many bands out there that have been trying to do this for years and they wanna make it. Rod and I in a short time have really been very successful and worked very hard. The buzz is really starting to hit now especially now that the album is out worldwide. Independently we have been selling cd's to South Korea, Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico, and quite a few other places.

HMR: Well, I think it is a great album and hope it does well for you. I wanted to look at the touring aspect of the album. What kind of touring have you done to this point and what plans do you have?

JB: Well, when the album had just came out, besides local gigs that we were doing, we headlined a small tour down in Puerto Rico. We headlined a 20 band 2 day outdoor festival. Plus, we played quite a few coffee houses with acoustic sets. We had a phenomenal response there. Then we signed a distribution deal down there and throughout the course of the year we were just playing locally, but in our area in Jersey, there are not too many places to play original music. It's more of a cover tune band thing, that's what they attract. In between there we helped write and produce an album. We then were approached by Secret Port. They asked us to put 2 bonus tracks on the worldwide release. Rod and I went back to the drawing table and started writing and went back into the studio and finished that up. We're still interviewing hired guns to go out on tour with us. Our tours are starting to kick off in May. The dates are starting to fill in which is pretty cool. In fact, the bass player 'Taz' Robles that we used in Puerto Rico that we hired down there is an absolute monster. He's picking up his bags and moving here as of April 23rd I think to be with us.

HMR: You actually led into my next question talking about the touring band. I think that with 'Taz" moving here itis self explanatory for that position, but will you be hiring temporary members for touring or looking for permanent players?

JB: The nucleus of this project is Rod and I because we do all of the writing. we spend more time together I think then we do with our own families. The bass player, 'Taz' from Puerto Rico will be a full time player obviously.

HMR: I was kind of curious what you guys listen to in your spare time.

JB: (Laughing) Rod knows why I am laughing. You go first Rod.

RR: What do I listen to, well, of course I listen to a lot of Flamenco guitar players. I like Al Di Meola. My rock, I like Stryper, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Dio, Glenn Hughes and a little bit of jazz here and there. That's basically it. I'm still a metalhead, an 80's metalhead. I love 80's rock.

JB: I am also a big Dio fan. I love Ronnie James Dio. I love Deep Purple and Rainbow. I like some of the newer acts that are out there like P.O.D. and that type of thing. I am also a hardcore fan. I like hardcore music. To be honest with you, the reason I was laughing is that after we are done playing the metal stuff, I go home and listen to country. I am a huge country and western fan and a gigantic Elvis Presley fan.

HMR: Wow, I would've never guessed that.

JB: Yeah, you wouldn't figure. I try to take some of the sweetness that Elvis sang with on some of the softer songs and try to incorporate that into what I do, the feeling that he had. I'm a huge Ronnie James Dio fan and a huge Glenn Hughes fan for sure. The guy's just out of control.

HMR: Yeah, I followed both of those guys pretty extensively myself and the projects that they were in going quite a ways back.

JB: As far as I am concerned, Ronnie James Dio is the king of heavy metal. His voice is absolutely incredible.

HMR: I agree with you. I think Dio has been very underrated. I don't think he has got his just dues.

JB: I agree. I get into battles with people. Not to take anything away from Ozzy and I respect what Ozzy does and everything like that, but there's no comparison of the two voices. Technique-wise Dio totally outclasses him so I get into fights with people. I am looking at the technical end of it. Dio is just technically trained. His voice is just far superior. In fact, Rod and I went to see Dio, Deep Purple and Scorpions this past summer. Dio warmed the two other bands up and as far as I am conceerned there is just no comparison.

HMR: You won't get an arguement from me on Ronnie James and Ozzy. With Black Sabbath I was more of a 'Heaven and Hell' and 'Mob Rules' fan. I really have followed Ozzy's career through the years and am a big fan, but my intro to Black Sabbath was Dio era. That is my preference.

JB: I wanna do a duet with Dio. I wanna do something with him.

HMR: Hey, you never know.

JB: It will happen, believe me.

HMR: I was hunting around the web for information on the band. Some of the places you can be found is, but as far as an official website, are you guys gonna put up something.

JB: We're in the process of doing that. How this works is that this has happened so fast for us and being in and out of the studio, doing tours, and now writing our next cd, it's been insane. Probably in the next month or so we are going to get a website made up. We have to have it at this point. We've just been concentrating on so much. I guess the wagon was before the horse. It happened a lot faster than we though it would.

HMR: When you do get that up let me know so I can get the word out and a link up.

JB: Thanks. We really appreciate that.

HMR: Looking at the website, I was noticing your tracks, there were 3 mp3's up for download. 'Cry of Love' which is also appears on the 'Invisible Force' album, was listed on an album 'Cry of Love'. Was there an album called that or was that a demo?

RR: That was a single. That is what started it all. We did that track and shopped it a bit. That is what that Mp3 was.

HMR: I wanted to ask about your personal favorite tracks. I will say up front that 'Eclectic' is one of my favorites. A great five part song with varying tempos. What is each of your favorites??

RR: Personal favorites... well, I really like 'Hand of God'. It doesn't have a lot of flashy stuff, but it comes from the heart. It's very personal. Another favorite of mine is 'Cry of Love' That is what started it all for me and John. The whole album really is my favorite.

JB: Well, first of all 'Cry of Love'. For Rod and I, that is what brought us together and that will always be a staple between him and I. When Rod and I met for the first time it was like we knew each other for years. We became like brothers instantly. That song is what brought us together on a personal level. That song will always be intimate between the two of us. Plus I enjoy singing it. The other two songs that stand out are 'Tarot Reader' because it's like my version of something Ronnie James Dio-ish, it's very melodic. Thirdly, 'Give you my love' is very personal to me. It's very hypnotic and personal. We get quite a few reactions when we do that song.

HMR: Well, that is about all I had for now. I just wanted to thank you guys for your time. I really dig the album and wish you luck with it.

RR: We appreciate all of your support. You've got a great site. Rock on and thanks for keeping rock and metal alive. Again, I appreciate your compliments.

HMR: Thanks again and stay in touch!

Rod Rivera
Johnny Bomma
'Invisible Force' out now!
Johnny Bomma Photo by Steven D. Ryker Photography. Used by permission 2003 B&R Music.
Rod Rivera Photo by Deja View Photography. Used by permission 2003 B&R Music